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I'm goin' where the water drink like turpentine - Scott Dunbar, Blue Yodel

Author Topic: Stagolee - Blind Pete & Partner  (Read 1666 times)

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Offline Mr. Jelly Roll

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Stagolee - Blind Pete & Partner
« on: May 13, 2010, 03:01:38 AM »
Hello Country Blues Friends,
I've recently tried to figure out the lyrics of the "Stagolee"-Version of Blind Pete & Partner (DOCD-5320). For me it is very hard to understand and some parts don't seem to be logical but I wanna show you "my" version.  Here is the original recording:




Blind Pete & Partner - Stagolee

Stagolee (oh) said
"What do you think of that?
killed poor Billy Lyons 'bout a five dollar stetson hat"
Ain't he a mad man with his gun

"My son" he said "was arrested"
...he was in jail
accused him..... a hundred dollar bill
Ain't he a mad man with his gun

Stagolee said "Billy,
please don't take my life
I've got two children and a dear little loving wife"
Ain't he a mad man with his gun

"My one is a boy
the other is a girl
you never see your father 'till you meet him in another world"
Ain't he a mad man with his gun

Stag said to his woman
"the lads around they wouldn't do
get me out of this cellar girl no tellin' what I would do for you"
Ain't he a mad man with his gun

"My son calls me Stag, my Name is ...
I'm not your prisoner,
go and hunt somebody else"
Ain't he a mad man with his gun

Stagolee and Billy
had another fight
....could call....awful ... that night
Ain't he a mad man with his gun

Stag ... poor Billy
..... against ... clean
He cried "Look a here Stag done murdered me"
Ain't he a mad man with his gun


I just love this version !
Can you help?

Greetings,
Mr. Jelly Roll
« Last Edit: July 03, 2020, 01:53:37 PM by Johnm »

Offline Richard

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Re: Stagolee - Blind Pete & Partner
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2010, 09:21:12 AM »
Can you post a sample?
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline Mr. Jelly Roll

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Re: Stagolee - Blind Pete & Partner
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2010, 02:31:06 PM »
Can you post a sample?

Here comes the sample !

Offline Pan

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Re: Stagolee - Blind Pete & Partner
« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2010, 03:24:20 PM »
Ok. Here are some suggestions:

1. Stagolee, OLD STACK...
...Ain't he a BAD man with his gun

2. By Sunday Stag was arrested,
Monday he was in jail,
Tuesday morning he was out
on a hundred dollar bail...

4. ...you'll never see your fathers FACE 'till you meet him in another world..

5. Stack said to his woman
some lights around would do (?)

6.While some call me Stack (?), My name is Billy Will (?)
I'm not your prisoner,
go and hunt somebody ill (?)

7. Stack'O Lee and Billy
had another fight
..?..could call that a awfully bad night (?)

8. Stack shot poor Billy
Billy fell against a tree...

The places with question marks I hear differently than you, but am really not sure about. Let's hope others (natives) will take it from here and fill in and correct my mistakes.

Nice version of the song, BTW.  :)

Cheers

Pan





« Last Edit: May 14, 2010, 03:25:43 PM by Pan »

Offline Mr. Jelly Roll

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Re: Stagolee - Blind Pete & Partner
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2010, 12:51:51 AM »
Let's hope others (natives) will take it from here and fill in and correct my mistakes.



Thank you Pan, your parts sound quite correct. I am not a native speaker either!
Did you see that page: http://www.staggerlee.com/
There is a list of "all" versions of this song (which is most likely incomplete). Bunker Hill already posted this link.

Greetings,

Mr. Jelly Roll

Online Johnm

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Re: Stagolee - Blind Pete & Partner
« Reply #5 on: December 01, 2013, 10:27:29 AM »
Hi all,
I just came across this thread that I somehow missed when it first was posted and thought it would be neat to see if we could complete the lyric transcription.  I know nothing about the performers, but an .mp3 of the performance can be downloaded from earlier in the thread.  The guitarist does a nice job accompanying the song out of C position in standard tuning.  Of the various versions of "Stagolee" I've heard, this one seems closest, lyrically, to that of the Down Home Boys, and it's not all that close to that one.  Here is what I have for the lyrics and in the bent bracketed places I would certainly appreciate correction or corroboration.

Stagolee-Blind Pete & Partner

SPOKEN:  Stagolee, now, right on Stagolee

Stagolee, oh Stack, what do you think about that?
Killed poor Billy De Lyon 'bout a five-dollar Stetson hat
REFRAIN: Ain't he a bad man with his gun?

By Sunday Stack was arrested, Monday he was in jail
Tuesday morning, he was out on a hundred-dollar bail
REFRAIN: Ain't he a bad man with his gun?

"Stagolee", says Billy, "Please don't take my life.
I've got two little children and a dear little lovin' wife."
REFRAIN: Ain't he a bad man with his gun?

"My one was a boy, other is a girl."
"You'll never see your father's face 'til you meet him in another world."
REFRAIN: Ain't he a bad man with his gun

Stack said to his woman, like some rounder would do
"Get me out of this cellar, girl, no tellin' what I'll do for you."
REFRAIN: Ain't he a bad man with his gun?

"Why, some call me Stack, my name is Billy Wills.
I am not your prisoner, go and hunt somebody else."
REFRAIN: Ain't he a bad man with his gun?

Stagolee and Billy had a noble fight
Hey, I would call that a awful, real bad night
REFRAIN: Ain't he a bad man with his gun?

Stack shot poor Billy, Billy fell against the trees
He cried, "Look-a-here, Stack done murdered me!"
REFRAIN: Ain't he a bad man with his gun

Edited 12/2 to pick up corrections from jphauser2000 and Johnm

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: December 02, 2013, 08:35:22 AM by Johnm »

Offline jphauser

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Re: Stagolee - Blind Pete & Partner
« Reply #6 on: December 01, 2013, 08:07:40 PM »


Johnm, you've done a great job with the transcription! 

I've tried to transcribe this myself in the past and never could come close to figuring out the part that you transcribed as:

Stack said to his woman, <like some rounder would do>

I think you got it exactly right, but I do hear a couple of things differently in other verses.


In the second line of the fifth verse, I believe that "trouble" should be substituted for "cellar." (It does sound like "cellar" though.  I'm pretty sure I've come across another version with a similar line.)

In the next to last verse, I hear the second line as "I would call that a awful really bad night."

....

The really interesting part of this song is the third verse.  Below is your transcription.

"Stagolee", said Billy, "Please don't take my life.
I've got two little children and a dear little lovin' wife."
REFRAIN: Ain't he a bad man with his gun?

It's different from the lyrics in the original post by Mr. Jelly Roll in which it's Stagolee asking Billy to spare his life:
Stagolee said "Billy,
please don't take my life."

The transcription in Cecil Brown's dissertation Stagolee: From Shack Bully to Culture Hero matches Mr. Jelly Roll's.

Personally, I can't make up my mind which is correct, but I want to bring up some related points below.

I believe that in almost all versions of the song, it is clear that Billy is asking Stagolee to spare his life.  But there are two versions in which it is clear that it is Stagolee (not Billy) who is asking for his life to be spared.  In one of the earliest published versions of the song (Howard Odum's article in the Journal of American Folklore published in 1911), Stagolee cries to the judge and jury asking "please don't take my life" for the sake of his three children and wife.  The other version is The Downhome Boys recording titled "Original Stack O' Lee Blues" which goes:

Stag said to Billy "don?t you take my life,
Well I ain?t got but two lil? children, an? a darlin? lovin? wife.?



Billy appears to be a lawman of some sort--possibly a bounty hunter???-- in Blind Pete's version:

"Why, some call me Stack, my name is Billy Wills.
I am not your prisoner, go and hunt somebody else."
REFRAIN: Ain't he a bad man with his gun?

 And he also appears to be a lawman in the Downhome Boys version:

Stag said to Billy, "How can it be?
  You arrest a man as bad as me, but you won?t ?rest Stagolee?.

I used to interpret the above verse as some kind of taunt, with Stag telling Billy that even though you've arrested other bad men, you'll never arrest me.  But I believe this is incorrect.  I now interpret it as a request from Stagolee to be arrested rather than shot and killed.  In other words, Stag is saying "You've arrested other men just as bad as me, so don't kill me, arrest me also."  (I interpret "but you won't 'rest Stagolee" as "you're going to kill rather than arrest me.")

Billy responds to Stag's request to be spared with the following.

 ?One is a boy an? the other is a girl,
        Well you may see your children again, but it?ll be in another world.?

I interpret this as Billy announcing his intention to kill Stagolee.  Of course, Stagolee triumphs in the end. 

In the book Stagolee Shot Billy, Cecil Brown states that Stagolee was a response to police brutality, but he never explains his reasoning for making this claim.  I believe that the version from the Downhome Boys and the Blind Pete version--if given the interpretation of Stagolee asking Billy to spare his life--would serve as support for Brown's claim. 

Here's a link to a full transcription of the version by the Downhome Boys from Max Haymes's Early blues website.  I believe there are some errors in it, but not in the verses I'm bringing up here.
http://www.earlyblues.com/essay_stack_o_lee.htm


Jim Hauser

https://sites.google.com/site/JohnHenryTheRebelVersions/home



« Last Edit: December 01, 2013, 08:12:48 PM by jphauser2000 »

Online Johnm

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Re: Stagolee - Blind Pete & Partner
« Reply #7 on: December 02, 2013, 08:45:48 AM »
Hi Jim,
Thanks for the help with the transcription.  I'm going to let "cellar" stand, both because the sound is right, and there is no hint of a "b" sound in what is sung--it really doesn't sound like "trouble" at all.  I think you're correct about "awful, real bad night", and I've made that change. 
I think the confusion over whether Stagolee initially threatened Billy or vice versa only makes sense if Stack is the one doing the threatening, both because of his reputation and because of the final outcome.  I think the extent to which different versions put a different spin on that can be attributed to the lack of clarity in a phrase like (without quotes) Stagolee said Billy.  As you noted, it can be interpreted as, Stagolee said, "Billy, . . . ." or it can be interpreted as, "Stagolee", said Billy, " . . . . ", which made the most sense to me.
The Down Home Boys' version of the song was transcribed here several years ago and can be found in the Lyrics section of Weeniepedia or in the Down Home Boys Lyrics thread.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: December 02, 2013, 12:46:11 PM by Johnm »

Offline jphauser

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Re: Stagolee - Blind Pete & Partner
« Reply #8 on: December 02, 2013, 05:11:37 PM »
John, as far as the Blind Pete version goes, I'll probably be forever unable to make up my mind between the two different interpretations. Stagolee's reputation plus the versions such as the one by Mississippi John Hurt in which it's clear that Billy is asking Stagolee to spare his life have me leaning in one direction.  But when I think of Billy being a lawman in both the Blind Pete version and the version by the Downhome Boys and Cecil Brown's claim that "Stagolee" was a response to police brutality, doubt comes upon me and I start to lean in the other direction, especially since it's clear that Stagolee is asking Billy to spare his life in the Downhome Boys version.

Jim


 


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